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Microsoft Research Brings Kinect-Style Depth Perception to Ordinary Cameras
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '14 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-far-away-you-are department:
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Microsoft has been working on ways to make any regular 2D camera capture depth, meaning it could do some of the same things a Kinect does. As you can see in the video below the team managed to pull this off and we might see this tech all around in the near future. What's really impressive is that this works with many types of cameras. The research team used a smartphone as well as a regular webcam and both managed to achieve some impressive results, the cameras have to be slightly modified but that's only to permit more IR light to hit the sensor." The video is impressive, but note that so are several of the other projects that Microsoft has created for this year's SIGGRAPH, in particular one that makes first-person sports-cam footage more watchable.

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DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '14 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's have-to-break-the-law-to-protect-the-law department:
Via Ars Technica comes news that an Amtrak employee was paid nearly $900,000 over the last ten years to give the DEA passenger lists outside of normal channels. Strangely enough, the DEA already had access to such information through official channels. From the article: The employee, described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data without Amtrak's approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses. ... Amtrak has long worked closely with the DEA to track drug trafficking activity on its train lines. The Albuquerque Journal reported in 2001 that "a computer with access to Amtrak's ticketing information sits on a desk in the [DEA]'s local office," wrote the ACLU.

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NVIDIAs 64-bit Tegra K1: The Ghost of Transmeta Rides Again, Out of Order
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '14 at 01:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's order-out-of department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes Ever since Nvidia unveiled its 64-bit Project Denver CPU at CES last year, there's been discussion over what the core might be and what kind of performance it would offer. Visibly, the chip is huge, more than 2x the size of the Cortex-A15 that powers the 32-bit version of Tegra K1. Now we know a bit more about the core, and it's like nothing you'd expect. It is, however, somewhat similar to the designs we've seen in the past from the vanished CPU manufacturer Transmeta. When it designed Project Denver, Nvidia chose to step away from the out-of-order execution engine that typifies virtually all high-end ARM and x86 processors. In an OoOE design, the CPU itself is responsible for deciding which code should be executed at any given cycle. OoOE chips tend to be much faster than their in-order counterparts, but the additional silicon burns power and takes up die area. What Nvidia has developed is an in-order architecture that relies on a dynamic optimization program (running on one of the two CPUs) to calculate and optimize the most efficient way to execute code. This data is then stored inside a special 128MB buffer of main memory. The advantage of decoding and storing the most optimized execution method is that the chip doesn't have to decode the data again; it can simply grab that information from memory. Furthermore, this kind of approach may pay dividends on tablets, where users tend to use a small subset of applications. Once Denver sees you run Facebook or Candy Crush a few times, it's got the code optimized and waiting. There's no need to keep decoding it for execution over and over.

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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's watch-out-I-know-html department:
An anonymous reader writes CBS's upcoming hacker show Scorpion is pitched as based on the real life of Irish 'eccentric genius' Walter O'Brien a.k.a. "Scorpion". Some of the claims made for the real Scorpion are extraordinary. A child prodigy with an IQ of 197, hacking Nasa at age 13, [supplying] Ireland with more Personal Computers than DELL and Gateway together. Searching online I wasn't able to find anything which, for me, clearly backed up any of these (or other) claims. For example, rather than being the sixth fastest programmer in the world in 1993, his team ranked 90th out of 250 teams. Curiously, his degree grade was an ok, but hardly stellar B+ (II-I). Does anyone know anything to back up the genius claims being made about Scorpion?

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Patents That Kill
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 07:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's no-medicine-for-you department:
wabrandsma (2551008) writes From The Economist: "The patent system, which was developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England, gave entrepreneurs a monopoly to sell their inventions for a number of years. Yet by the 1860s the patent system came under attack, including from The Economist. Patents, critics argued, stifled future creativity by allowing inventors to rest on their laurels. Recent economic research backs this up."

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Injecting Liquid Metal Into Blood Vessels Could Help Kill Tumors
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 04:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's accidentally-colossus department:
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes One of the most interesting emerging treatments for certain types of cancer aims to starve the tumor to death. The strategy involves destroying or blocking the blood vessels that supply a tumor with oxygen and nutrients. Without its lifeblood, the unwanted growth shrivels up and dies. This can be done by physically blocking the vessels with blood clots, gels, balloons, glue, nanoparticles and so on. However, these techniques have never been entirely successful because the blockages can be washed away by the blood flow and the materials do not always fill blood vessels entirely, allowing blood to flow round them. Now Chinese researchers say they've solved the problem by filling blood vessels with an indium-gallium alloy that is liquid at body temperature. They've tested the idea in the lab on mice and rabbits. Their experiments show that the alloy is relatively benign but really does fill the vessels, blocks the blood flow entirely and starves the surrounding tissue of oxygen and nutrients. The team has also identified some problems such as the possibility of blobs of metal being washed into the heart and lungs. Nevertheless, they say their approach is a promising injectable tumor treatment.

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Chile Earthquake Triggered Icequakes In Antarctica
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 04:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's continent-vs-continent department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes In 2010, a powerful magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck off the coast of central Chile, rocking much of the country and producing tremor as far away as Argentina and Peru. But a new study suggests its effects were felt even farther away—in Antarctica. In the wake of the Maule temblor, the scientists found, several seismic stations on the frozen continent registered 'icequakes,' probably due to fracturing of the ice as the planet's crust shook.

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Google's Satellites Could Soon See Your Face From Space
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 03:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's google-face-view department:
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes Two months ago, after much lobbying by the biggest satellite company in North America, DigitalGlobe, the US government relaxed restrictions to allow for commercially available satellite imagery up to 25 cm resolution—twice as detailed as the previous limit of 50 cm.
The DigitalGlobe's Worldview-3, the first commercial satellite set to capture these high-res images is set to launch this Wednesday. Six months after that, private businesses, including its regular client Google, will be able to get their hands on hyper-detailed photos and videos of the globe.


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Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's closing-the-doors department:
mdsolar writes EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, said on Monday that it was shutting down three nuclear reactors and that a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so. The facilities, which are being investigated as a precaution, generate nearly a quarter of nuclear capacity in Britain. The British Office for Nuclear Regulation said that there had been no release of radioactive material and no injuries. Industry experts did not anticipate much effect on electricity supplies or prices in the short term. EDF said that over the next few days it would idle a second reactor at the facility, Heysham 1, in northwest England. The company said it would also shut down two other reactors of similar design at Hartlepool in northeast England to investigate whether they had the same flaws.

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The Technologies Changing What It Means To Be a Programmer
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keeping-up-with-the-times department:
snydeq writes Modern programming bears little resemblance to the days of assembly code and toggles. Worse, or perhaps better, it markedly differs from what it meant to be a programmer just five years ago. While the technologies and tools underlying this transformation can make development work more powerful and efficient, they also make developers increasingly responsible for facets of computing beyond their traditional domain, thereby concentrating a wider range of roles and responsibilities into leaner, more overworked staff.

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Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's high-horse department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: In Silicon Valley they think differently, and if that leads to arrogance, so be it. At least that's what Bloomberg Businessweek's Joel Stein implies in his long meditation on the area's outlook on technology, money and changing the world. Stein set out to examine the underlying notion that Silicon Valley's and San Francisco's tech entrepreneurs are feeding a backlash by being, in a word, jerks. His conclusion seems to be that they may well be jerks, but they're misunderstood jerks. He doesn't deny that there's sexism and boorishness at play in the young tech community, but he sees the industry trying to make itself better. He sees a lot of egotism at work, too, but he says if you're setting out to change the world, you're probably going to need a big ego to do it. But tell that to other people in Northern California: undoubtedly, you've read about the tempest in San Francisco recently, where urban activists are decrying the influx of highly paid tech professionals, who they argue are displacing residents suddenly unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents.

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Intel's 14-nm Broadwell CPU Primed For Slim Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's check-it-out department:
crookedvulture writes Intel's next-gen Broadwell processor has entered production, and we now know a lot more about what it entails. The chip is built using 14-nm process technology, enabling it to squeeze into half the power envelope and half the physical footprint of last year's Haswell processors. Even the thickness of the CPU package has been reduced to better fit inside slim tablets. There are new power-saving measures, too, including a duty cycle control mechanism that shuts down sections of the chip during some clock cycles. The onboard GPU has also been upgraded with more functional units and hardware-assisted H.265 decoding for 4K video. Intel expects the initial Broadwell variant, otherwise known as the Core M, to slip into tablets as thin as the iPad Air. We can expect to see the first systems on shelves in time for the holidays.

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Google Is Backing a New $300 Million High-Speed Internet Trans-Pacific Cable
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's greased-lightning department:
An anonymous reader writes Google has announced it is backing plans to build and operate a new high-speed internet Trans-Pacific cable system called "FASTER." In addition to Google, the $300 million project will be jointly managed by China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, and SingTel, with NEC as the system supplier. FASTER will feature the latest high-quality 6-fiber-pair cable and optical transmission technologies. The initial design capacity is expected to be 60Tb/s (100Gb/s x 100 wavelengths x 6 fiber-pairs), connecting the US with two locations in Japan.

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Open-Source Gear For Making Mind-Controlled Gadgets
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's free-your-mind department:
the_newsbeagle writes If you've been hankering to control a robotic battle spider with your mind but haven't known how to begin, you're in luck. A startup called OpenBCI is now selling an Arduino-compatible board that any reasonably competent DIYer can use to build a brain-computer interface. The board takes in data from up to 8 EEG scalp electrodes, and hackers are already using it to pull of some good tricks. There's the guy with the battle spiders, and there's a group in L.A. building a paint-by-brain system for a paralyzed graffiti artist.

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China Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Apologizes For Unauthorized Data Access
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's our-bad department:
SpzToid writes Following up an earlier story here on Slashdot, now Xiaomi has apologized for collecting private data from its customers. From the article: "Xiaomi Inc said it had upgraded its operating system to ensure users knew it was collecting data from their address books after a report by a computer security firm said the Chinese budget smartphone maker was taking personal data without permission. The privately held company said it had fixed a loophole in its cloud messaging system that had triggered the unauthorized data transfer and that the operating system upgrade had been rolled out on Sunday. The issue was highlighted last week in a blog post by security firm F-Secure Oyg. In a lengthy blogpost on Google Plus, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra apologized for the unauthorized data collection and said the company only collects phone numbers in users' address books to see if the users are online."

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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I'll-do-it-later department:
McGruber writes An internal investigation by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that some of its 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in and many were receiving bonuses for work they did not do. While half of the USPTO's Patent Examiners work from home full time, oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was "completely ineffective," investigators concluded. The internal investigation also unearthed another widespread problem. More than 70 percent of the 80 managers interviewed told investigators that a "significant" number of examiners did not work for long periods, then rushed to get their reviews done at the end of each quarter. Supervisors told the review team that the practice "negatively affects" the quality of the work. "Our quality standards are low," one supervisor told the investigators. "We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements." Patent examiners review applications and grant patents on inventions that are new and unique. They are experts in their fields, often with master's and doctoral degrees. They earn at the top of federal pay scale, with the highest taking home $148,000 a year.

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Interviews: James Cameron and John Bruno Answer Your Questions
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
Last week you had the chance to pose questions to James Cameron and director John Bruno about their film, Deepsea Challenge 3D. We included some of those questions when we sat down with them to talk about the submersible and the movie. Below you'll find that conversation.

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Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-my-name-out-of-your-book department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A best-seller by former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade about recent human evolution and its potential effects on human cultures has drawn critical reviews since its spring publication. Now, nearly 140 senior human population geneticists around the world, many of whose work was cited in the book, have signed a letter to The New York Times Book Review stating that Wade has misinterpreted their work. The letter criticizes "Wade's misappropriation of research from our field to support arguments about differences among human societies."

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Hackers Demand Automakers Get Serious About Security
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lock-it-down department:
wiredmikey writes In an open letter to Automotive CEOs, a group of security researchers has called on automobile industry executives to implement five security programs to improve car safety and build cyber-security safeguards inside the software systems powering various features in modern cars. As car automation systems become more sophisticated, they need to be locked down to prevent tampering or unauthorized access. The Five Star Automotive Cyber Safety Program outlined in the letter asked industry executives for safety by design, third-party collaboration, evidence capture, security updates, and segmentation and isolation. Vehicles are "computers on wheels," Josh Corman, CTO of Sonatype and a co-founder of I am the Cavalry, the group who penned the letter (PDF. The group aims to bring security researchers together with representatives from non-security fields, such as home automation and consumer electronics, medical devices, transportation, and critical infrastructure, to improve security.

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About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '14 at 06:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's in-the-cards department:
Taco Cowboy writes with this story about new research that finds a strong genetic component to a child's ability in math and reading. "You may think you're better at reading than you are at math (or vice versa), but new research suggests you're probably equally good (or bad) at both. The reason: The genes that determine a person's ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other, accounting for about half of a person's overall ability. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used nearly 1,500 pairs of 12-year-old twins to tease apart the effects of genetic inheritance and environmental variables on math and reading ability. The researchers administered a set of math and verbal tests to the children and then compared the performance of different sets of twins. They found that the twins' scores — no matter if they were high or low — were twice as similar among pairs of identical twins as among pairs of fraternal twins. The results indicated that approximately half of the children's math and reading ability stemmed from their genetic makeup.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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